Back to Ouray, Colorado

  Revisiting one of my favorite places…………….                                     

                                                                 Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 

Welcome back. I have been laid up with bronchitis this past week and after my recent experience working for the Delaware tribe, I have been thinking about the many important contributions that American Indians have made to our country. All of this led me back to the story of Ouray, Colorado and the man the town is named for, one of the greatest Indian chiefs of the west, “Chief Ouray.”

 Ouray lies in a steep valley surrounded by mountain peaks and a stream that flows down the mountain sides to the headwaters of the Uncompahgre River. The river runs through Ouray down to the towns of Ridway and Montrose before joining forces with the Gunnison River in Delta.  The “Ancient Ones” as the Pueblos are called first came through this area after abandoning their cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde in the period from 1300-1500 AD. In 1776 scouts came to the valley looking for the best route to California from Santa Fe and they were followed by fur trappers in the early 1800s. All of this was going on when the future chief was born. As he grew up he came to love the remote areawhich remained quite isolated from outside influences.

 Chief Ouray had a small cabin in the area where the town of Ouray is today but his legend began way before then. He was born in 1833 to a Jicarilla Apache father and a Tabequache Ute mother and was raised in the Taos valley. He was educated in Taos and learned to speak four languages including Spanish, Ute, Apache and English. Then at 17 he became Chief of the Uncompahgre Ute tribe. Ouray’s first wife, Black Mare, died in childbirth and in 1859 he married an Uncompahgre Ute woman named Chipeta who became famous in her own right.

 When he was 35, the US Government recognized Ouray as the Chief of the entire Ute nation as the result of his efforts to keep the peace between the Ute people and the many prospectors who came looking for gold and silver on Ute land. Kit Carson was the Indian agent out of Taos and he came to know Ouray well. Together the two worked out a peace agreement that gave the Utes 15 million acres in Colorado in exchange for their mining rights in the San Juan Mountains.

 The Chief continued to maintain peaceful relations between his people and outsiders, even during the gold rush of the late 1800s. To help with that effort Chief Ouray visited Washington, DC and met with President Rutherford B. Hayes who called him the “most intellectual man he ever conversed with.”  Despite the greedy behavior of many prospectors Chief Ouray always believed that peace was best and when he died in 1880 he was honored as a great statesman.

 In 1887 the railroad came to Ouray and it was followed by the formation of the San Juan District Mining Association in 1903. The small cabin and natural hot springs where Chief Ouray had soaked his feet would never be the same.

Surrounded on all sides by snow-capped peaks today Ouray bills itself as the “Switzerland of America.” With no nearby ski area to attract the tourism of other Colorado mountain towns, Ouray has kept much of its authentic turn-of-the-century charm. The whole town is registered as a Historic District and includes many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Its free Ice Park attracts amateur and pro ice climbers from around the world.

 If you go to Ouray be sure to visit the Chief’s original cabin and the hot springs which are still there. Speaking from personal experience I have soaked my feet in those same waters and it’s easy to understand why he loved this area.

 Till next week I’ll see ya down the road…

 

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Angel Fire Resort and the Sutton Avian Center

   This just in: A huge snowstorm has dumped 29″ of snow on Angel Fire! Get ready for ski season!                                                 

                                                    Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  I’ll start this week with the news that there is already some good snow in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. Over the years I’ve met different ski slope operators and they send me regular reports on the ski conditions in their area. I’m happy to hear that Angel Fire Resort has received snow in the higher elevations and is making snow at lower altitudes. Red River which typically gets more snow than Angel Fire because it sits higher in the mountains, is also reporting good things. Both resorts offer a range of snow sports including snowboarding, downhill skiing and cross country as well as sledding and snow shoeing.  If you are like me, you may be retired from skiing but still be drawn to these beautiful mountains. From crisp, clear mornings to breathtaking sunsets, I wake up every morning ready to go.

If you have been thinking about taking a trip there now is a great time to visit. To celebrate Thanksgiving the Lodge at Angel Fire Resort is offering a $99 per couple package that includes lodging and the Thanksgiving buffet at their Elements Restaurant which I can tell you from experience is a first class place. Additional nights can be booked with this package for just $31.

The first official day of skiing is December 12 and if you stay at the Lodge anytime from the 12th-18th you will get two free lift tickets for each night you book. These are excellent opportunities to get acquainted with a wonderful area. Call (844) 218-4107 for more information.

You can also visit my website (www.originalbuffalodale.com) for regular snow reports.

Moving forward, I’ve had the privilege in my life to attend several inauguration ceremonies for the new chiefs of Indian tribes. Recently over in Ponca City I attended the ceremony for the new Osage Chief, Geoffrey Standingbear and I was there on Saturday when Chief Chet Brooks took his oath of office. Several other new officers were also sworn in during a ceremony I will always remember.

While I’m on the subject of American Indians, please let me correct a misstatement in last week’s column. I mistakenly said that Buffalo Bill had killed a Cheyenne warrior named “Yellow Hand” when in fact the young warrior’s name was “Heoua’ehe” or “Yellow Hair.

I learned that over the years this name has been mis translated many times including in several movies. One thing is for sure, at the Battle of War Bonnet Creek Buffalo Bill did kill a warrior by the name of “Heoua’ehe”.

On another subject, you may not all be aware of the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center which was founded here in Bartlesville in 1983. This world renowned facility has been responsible for the reintroduction of the bald eagle in Oklahoma where there are now 120 breeding pairs. This accomplishment has helped remove the eagle from the endangered species list and has given Oklahomans the opportunity to observe these breathtaking birds either in the wild or via webcam.

On November 14th the Sutton Center will celebrate thirty years of successful research and conservation with a special gala at the Mayo Hotel in Tulsa entitled “Birds of A Feather, Thirty Years Together. “ Featuring cocktails, dinner and a program highlighting the center’s many projects, this is sure to be a wonderful event. For tickets and more information contact the Sutton Center and stay tuned for their new project, restoring the population of the rapidly disappearing Attwater’s Prairie Chicken.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….

 

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Buffalo Bill Cody

          The life of one of my inspirations  as I prepare to start an exciting new adventure……………….                                                                        

 

                                                                                Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.   Buffalo Bill Cody was a plainsman, hunter, scout, Indian fighter and showman. He was born in Iowa on February 26, 1845 and as a boy he crossed the plains many times working with bull trains.  In his teens Cody was a Pony Express rider before moving on to a job with Overland Express as a stage coach driver. Eventually he became the boss of several wagon trains going west where they encountered hostile Indian tribes on a regular basis. During the Civil War Cody served as a scout for the Union Army and according to his autobiography later worked as a trapper and a guide.

 Letters written by the Army officers Cody worked for praise his courage and also speak of his good manners and strong sense of honor. His skill as a buffalo hunter earned him his nick name and by 1873 he had become a star on Broadway. However Cody was always anxious to get back to the western plains and after his son Kit Carson Cody died in childhood he accepted a position as a guide and Chief of Scouts for the 5th Calvary.  A battle with eight hundred Cheyenne and a dual with the famed Indian warrior Yellow Hand  made Buffalo Bill a hero in the eyes of people around the country. Over the next few years he continued his life of adventure scouting for steamships, working as a dispatch carrier and even appearing on Broadway. By 1878 he had purchased a large farm in Platte, Nebraska and a cattle ranch near North Platte where he could have settled down with his loving family but he was too restless to stay put for long. Soon he took on another scouting job followed by more appearances with a “Wild West Exhibition” as he called it. These pursuits would keep him in the saddle until the end of his life in 1917.

 

Today the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is on Lookout Mountain just outside of Denver. Cody particularly wanted to be buried here because you can see for miles around from this spot. As the wind blows off the continental divide and you smell the ponderosa pine, you can almost sense his presence. This is a great place to visit and learn the life of a true frontiersman and a way of life in the old west that is long gone.

 

The life of this amazing man and mine will intertwine starting in January as I travel down many of the same trails that Buffalo Bill followed from his burial place on the continental divide across the Great Plains of Wyoming and into Montana. Cody also loved the cattle business and the stories about him and his partner Major Frank North, who was also the commander of the renowned Pawnee scouts, are legendary in North Platte. I’ll be taking you there as well.

 

New York City where Cody appeared on Broadway to great acclaim, along with a visit to his closest relatives, is also on tap.

 

No doubt I will face some of the same dangers and challenges that Bill faced, although not from hostile Indians. In Bill’s day he traveled thousands of miles through rough country on horseback, sleeping under the stars or in a wagon. Hunting for food and water took up a good part of every day.  In my case I will be crossing the country in a motorhome, foraging for food at roadside markets and passing the night by the side of the road or in a campground. It will be an exciting new adventure for me and I’ll be bringing you stories from both the past and the present along the way. This is a trip that Buffalo Bill took a lifetime to complete on horseback. As for me, you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

 

Till next week, I’ll see ya down the road………………

 

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Back to Branson

 A recent visit to one of my favorite places………………..                                                              

                                                                               Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

 Welcome back.  This week I’m here to report that Branson is alive and well! When I’m traveling I don’t often get the opportunity to stop off somewhere but when I’m close to the pride of Missouri I make time for a detour no matter how busy I am. That’s how it was this week when I wrapped early on Saturday and arrived in Branson around 3 in the afternoon.

Always on the lookout for a good clean room in a modest price range, I followed up on a recommendation from the Branson Visitors’ and Convention Bureau and booked a room at the Southern Oaks Inn. It was perfect! The location was great, right in the center of everything, the room was spacious and immaculately clean and the amenities included a big pool, sundecks and a hot breakfast every morning.

My next stop on Saturday night was the Dixie Stampede. If you like horses, buffalo and flying birdmen this is the show for you. As always the themes include the conflict between the north and south during the civil war and the settling of the west and there was plenty of singing and dancing along with lots of jokes. This is family entertainment at its best and some of the kids in the audience even got to participate in the show. From the pre-show entertainer who could have been a headliner himself to the beautiful costumes there’s nothing like it. There’s one more thing: I have to agree with Dolly Parton when she says “you’ve never had dinner like this before!” She guarantees it and so do I!

Sunday was my first full day in town and with the good weather I decided to take in the view from a helicopter.  It was cool flying over Table Rock Lake where the Branson Belle was stocking up for her daily dinner cruises. The famous amphibious Ducks were going out and the strip was already busy even though it wasn’t even 10 a.m. yet.

I can’t go to Branson without a stop at one of the go-cart tracks and after a quick trip around the track I found myself at the Dick Clark Theater for the Legends show. For those of you who haven’t seen them yet, the Legends shows showcase impersonations of famous performers. This show included interpretations of George Strait, Michael Buble, the Blues Brothers and Marilyn Monroe. After talking with one of the performers I learned that the cast had come straight from a booking in Las Vegas and that they travel around the world.

After Legends I headed straight to Branson Landing where dinner at the White River Fish House is highly recommended. The Landing offers a variety of dining and shopping options in a great location right along the White River. Every day there is a free fountain display like nothing I’ve seen before with shooting water, music and lights.

At this point you might think I’d be headed back to the hotel but I had one more show to catch before bed. The Rankin Brothers are two extremely talented brothers whose show covers a range of popular songs from the ’50s to today. With a wonderful backup band and featuring a female vocalist named Lori Kelly who is also a former Miss Oklahoma, this was another don’t miss show!

As usual I only scratched the surface of all the things there are to do in Branson. I didn’t have time to shop, ride the scenic train or visit Silver Dollar City where they are putting up their Christmas lights and displays. There are also numerous museums and many, many other shows I didn’t get to see and so many places where I didn’t get to eat all of which makes me want to come back to this beautiful spot in the Ozark Mountains.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

               

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